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IF God is real….

[Since starting this blog I have really struggled with what is the PURPOSE of it. I don’t think I should just be putting words out on the internet without a purpose, a vision behind them. But for almost a year, I’ve done just that. Supposedly all you readers out there enjoy it, and I get good feedback. I do enjoy sharing recipes, dog info, home projects, hubby projects, and so on… But I think occasionally I would like to post something that matters. That has purpose. Otherwise, why blog at all? So, that is what I’m going to do today… even though it’s scary…]

Last weekend over 40,000 women joined together worldwide for the IF: Gathering. The main event was in Austin, TX, but there was a live simulcast option for whoever wanted to take part. I participated with a group of 250 meeting in a movie theater just up the road from Austin.

“What is IF?”, you ask? Well, that’s what most of us were asking ourselves even as we walked into various venues across the country and world, and sat down. All we knew is that it was going to be something big, something great, probably something life-changing. Founder Jennie Allen compared it to the noise of a dog whistle. Her and her team blew the whistle, and women came running, just drawn to this event, coming just because they felt like they needed to. That’s how I felt, and many others I met. There was just something so different about the authenticity of the leadership and the lack of true plans for the weekend. It was inviting.

Before the conference even began I had already done something life-changing: gone alone. I don’t do things alone. Especially not go to conferences and gatherings. But when I couldn’t find anyone to go with, a friend encouraged me to be brave, and I signed up and went. Because I was alone I was able to meet with God more freely and also build relationships with wonderful women I wouldn’t otherwise have met. Going alone was a brave decision, and has made me feel I can be brave in other areas of life.

IF God is real… THEN what?

This question, along with Hebrews 12:1-2, framed the weekend.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So many things set this “conference” apart from others. Still, a week later, I am still processing all I learned, all God did; this posting doesn’t come close to covering it all. And from what people are saying on Twitter, I’m not the only one. For me, one of the best parts was that there were so many speakers, all from different backgrounds, different politics, different races- but all united under Jesus. All proclaiming Jesus. All pursuing Jesus.

And the same went for the attendees (in person and online)- different backgrounds, states, countries, theology… but all about Jesus.

Friday night Esther Havens, one of the speakers/leaders, summed it up perfectly with this tweet: “Tonight I experienced a piece of what I think heaven will be like”  Yes and Amen.

What can God do when tens of thousands of women gather together, equip themselves, and are unleashed upon the world to

Walk in faith, one step at a time,

Seek freedom,

Stop comparing and competing,

Run their race, eyes fixed on Jesus,

Live mercifully,

Seek justice for the oppressed,

Stop living in the past?

Bianca Olthoff said it best,

“If God is for us, who in hell can be against us?”

As I’ve processed, what keeps coming back over and over are “If… Then statements” IF God is real….

…Then my blog needs to have purpose

…Then I can go places alone in order to better grow in Him

…Then I need to choose risk and unknown over comfort

…Then I need to choose love over judgment

…Then I need to abide with Him daily, hourly, constantly

…Then I can do big things, through faith, and join the “cloud of witnesses” named in Hebrews 11

…Then I need to run my race well, fixing my eyes on Jesus

IF didn’t stop on Saturday evening at the conclusion of the gathering. The videos were posted online through Monday night, and can now be purchased as a download here. You will not regret the money spent on these words, hearing these speakers be real and faith-filled and hopeful for what’s next.

IF: Equip is a weekday Bible study for anyone, anywhere. Women all over the world reading a passage together and discussing it. Beautiful.

This “movement” is about coming together. Community. Loving one another well, in order to love the world well.

“Ask (God) for a heart that wants to serve, and just move” -Jen Hatmaker

What is your IF…Then statement? What do you need to do If God is really real?

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2013 Book List

As I compiled this list I realized how few books I read in 2013! I got distracted for several months by crossword puzzles and Netflix. But it sure feels nice to be reading regularly again now. Keep in mind that though I mark my favorites, that doesn’t mean the others aren’t awesome too! Maybe I should just start marking the ones I didn’t like. On this list that would really only be The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

2013 Book List

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Reading List- January 2014

Has this felt like the longest month ever to anyone else? I’m not sure why. It wasn’t a bad month. Maybe the unusually cold weather we’ve had made it feel long. Or that I didn’t have many sub job opportunities. Or starting Weight Watchers- watching my food every second of the day was tiring. I don’t know, I just kept thinking “oh my gosh, it it STILL January???”  And now it’s over and we move into February. Finally. Time to get the year started!

Despite it feeling like a long month, I didn’t read as much as I could have due to, yep, you guessed it, good ol’ Netflix. I got drawn into several shows including “The Next Great Baker” and “Tanked”. Michael and I have also started watching “24” together. For a long time we’ve been searching for a show to watch together that hubby can stay awake through, so we’re attempting this action-packed one. I watched it all the way through last summer, but I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. We are slowly making our way through season 1. Michael isn’t as good of a binge-watcher as me, probably because he has this thing called a job….

But, I did get some reading in!

Orange is the New Black- Kerman (2010, Non-fiction): I was first introduced to OITNB through the Netflix series that began this past year. I heard everyone saying how great it was, so I watched it. And it was great, but not something I can recommend. I was pretty shocked at what Netflix allowed. But, the story of Piper, a white, upper-class woman imprisoned for a 10-year-old drug charge, intrigued me. And the way the characters were portrayed in the show made me want to know them better, know more. So I decided to read the book, hoping it wasn’t as graphic as the show. And it wasn’t. I LOVED this book. Probably one of my favorites ever. Which is crazy. But it is just so good. It is significantly different from the show (and when I researched that, I learned that Kerman allowed Netflix to take massive liberties in the content of the show as long as it still portrayed the major themes she wanted to convey). The book follows her story of how she got involved in the drug scene, her returning to normal life, her indictment, sentencing and then, what the book is about, her prison stay at a Danbury minimum security camp. (Where Martha Stewart almost went- that’s discussed a lot in the book…). It is interesting, gripping and so emotional! The ladies she did time with are brought to life and you come to know them and love them, and it brings to light a whole other side to prisoners and prison life that most people would never think about or know about. It gives great insight into life in prison, as well as the bureaucracy that the prison system can be and suggests that maybe prison isn’t always the best choice. It is such a good book and I highly recommend it.

Triumph– Jessop (2010, Non-fiction): This is the sequel to Escape, which I read in December. Jessop uses this second book to bring further insight into her life while in the FLDS and then to share her story of starting her new life once she escaped. She shares some stories that were not included in Escape, revealing more abuse, more control, making her new life seem even more miraculous. The book was hard to read at points, and sometimes was a bit slow, but overall helped to complete this amazing journey of this very strong woman.

The Castaways– Hilderbrand (2009, Fiction): This novel is set on the island of Nantucket (as all of Hilderbrand’s novels are) and follows the ups and downs of four couples who are best friends. It is a rich and captivating story of friendship, love, marriage, tragedy, and forgiveness. The structure is different- rather than chapters, it is divided as each person gives their point of view and the story flows through these memories, stories, and thoughts on the events as they occur. Was a wonderful book that I read in just a couple of days because I couldn’t put it down!

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What I’ve Been Reading- November 2013

I read quite a variety this month… non-fiction, new adult fiction, and Christian fiction.

Prophet’s Prey– Sam Brower (Non-fiction, 2011) : Fascinating, and sickening, look into Warren Jeffs, the FLDS, and polygamy. The author was a private investigator who spent many years looking into this religion and knew the ins and outs and had first-hand sources. But, he isn’t an author, and that made it hard to read at times. Overly detailed, repetitive, confusing timeline, hard to keep track of everyone involved in the story. But, even with the writing issues, it is still an excellent source for information on the church and Jeffs. In the book, Brower makes reference to a few other books written by former FLDS members that I hope to read soon.

Losing It– Cora Carmack (Fiction, 2012): This book is written by a best friend of one of my best friends. So, I had to read it, even though it’s a bit on the scandalous side. I actually read it one night. It was a very fun story with some great characters that are so easy to connect with and care about.

Faking It– Cora Carmack (Fiction, 2013):  Carmack’s second book. Again, scandalous, but fun, sweet, and funny. Really enjoyed the story.

Fifteen Minutes– Karen Kingsbury (Fiction, 2013): As I mentioned in September’s post, I am a huge fan of Kingsbury. Her books are so meaningful and draw you in to the story in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Fifteen Minutes is no different. Though, I would say it’s not my favorite book of hers. It felt kind of fake/contrived, especially with multiple references to pop culture. But it’s an interesting look into fame and family and following God’s leading.

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What I’ve Been Reading- October 2013

This month I only read two books, which is low for me. I tend to average one per week, or more. But this month I decided to start watching Scandal. I know, I’m a little late to the party on that one, and I’m a big Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice fan so it would have made sense for me to watch Shondaland’s newest addition. But I was scared. It seemed really intense. So I put it off, and off, and off… Until one day in October I was bored and Netflix was there taunting me, luring me away from all the productive things I should be doing. I will admit, I’m a binge-watcher. Once I find a show on Netflix to watch, I watch until done. So far I’ve done this with The Office, 24, How I Met Your Mother, Breaking Bad, Parks & Recreation, Undercover Boss, Arrested Development, and some others that I don’t care to admit to. But Scandal drew me in more than any of those other shows. I COULD NOT stop watching. If you haven’t watched it, do. But I have warned you. You won’t be able to stop.

So, the two books I read this month….


Seating Arrangements– Maggie Shipstead (Fiction, 2012): It took me awhile to get through this one. The entire book covers a span of only three days, so each section is a very long and detailed account of each day. It wasn’t a bad book, I did enjoy it somewhat, just kind of boring, And once I was finished I wasn’t sure what the point was, though I think the theme may have been centered on this quote that stood out to me from page 91, “When does youth end?”. It really seemed like a book that you would read in English class and analyze.

 9780312997199Summer People– Elin Hilderbrand (Fiction, 2003): I discovered Hilderbrand through Bachelor “star” Ashley Spivey who tweets about books she has been reading (and usually has some really good recommendations!). This book was such a fun, light read with some interesting plot twists. It was perfect for bedtime reading. I really enjoyed it and have already checked out a couple more of her books from the library.


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Hi! My name is Taylor and I am so excited that you came to visit my blog! My blog title is Hubby, Hound, & Home- highlighting the three main things I plan on posting about:

Hubby: I have been married to my amazing husband Michael for about 2.5 years.

Hound: In October 2012, we adopted an ADORABLE dog named Oliver. He is about 2-3 years old and seems to be a mix of German Shepherd, Beagle, and probably lots of other things. I am currently a “stay-at-home dog mom” so him and I are a bit attached to each other.

Home: We moved into our first house together in March 2012 and did a complete re-do of every room and area. I wish I had had a blog then to record that journey, but I may post some before/after pics on here and blog about some of what we did. Also in this category- budgeting, cleaning, baking, cooking, and other aspects of life!


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